It’s possible to visit the Canaries without stepping foot on even an inch of asphalt, and of course, you can do it without tasting a typical dish from the Spanish peninsula. The islands are home to an incredible array of landscapes and food that comes sprinkled with Caribbean and African flavours that make a visit to the islands even more exciting, attractive and exquisite.
EL MOJO PICÓN
“Mojo picón, mojo picón, la rica salsa canaria se llama mojo picón”. This is what the immortal Caco Senante sang back in the 1980s and managed to get all of Spain to know the name of this famous sauce from the Canaries. Mojo is a sauce made from garlic, olive oil, paprika, cumin seeds, picona peppers, salt and vinegar and can be served with all types of dishes. There are many variations of mojo to try on the islands, so don’t go too crazy! The best are served with papas arrugadas, grilled cheese or simply a hunk of bread.
It’s a relatively easy dish to prepare. Anyone can add some potatoes (papas), and a pinch of salt to a pot of boiling water and cook them until the skin of the potatoes begins to wrinkle. But if we speak about the signature Canarian dish, we must refer to the old papa dating back to the 16th century, a tuber with protected designations of origin. The first plants came from America on the conquerors’ ships and have been preserved up to the present day but are only found in the Canary Islands and some remote areas in the Andes. There are as many varieties as there are adjectives to describe them: papa negra, papa bonita, melonera, borralla… This variety takes the tasting of the humble potato to another level.
Having the right farming conditions, and the climate to grow exceptional bananas helps a lot when designing a marketing campaign to sell the Canarian bananas. The banana is a symbol of the island, a fruit whose name is, and always will be, tied to the islands “el plátano de Canarias”. Bananas are grown at least 300m above sea level and the average temperature of 21ºC throughout the year means they ripen perfectly. More than 500 years of growing bananas on the islands and the constant search to improve the plantations have made this crop something of a lifestyle and a standard-bearer, which all the locals are extremely proud of.
LA MIEL DE LA PALMA
The name can be misleading as the literal translation means palm honey, but it’s actually sap (guarapo) from the Canarian palm tree and not honey at all. It has an exquisite flavour, and although it’s now only produced on the island of La Gomera, it’s a favourite on all the islands as an accompaniment to cheese, deserts and meats.
Possibly one of the oldest foods on the islands, of Beber origin, gofio is one of the few foods that have been maintained since the time of the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands. For centuries, this mix that is made from stone-milled roasted grains with a pinch of salt was the basis of many Canarian dishes as it has a high caloric intake. The Guanches made several different versions of gofio using barley, lentils or wheat and after the conquest of America, they added new ingredients such as rye and corn.